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Housing Claremont’s Letter to the Editor on Larkin Place

April 4, 2022

Dear Editor: 

On Thursday night, Jamboree Housing Corporation hosted a community meeting to  share plans for the new permanent supportive housing program, Larkin Place, that  will be built on the vacant lot adjacent to Larkin Park. I listened quietly trying to  identify how the Housing and Homelessness Collaborative of Claremont (Housing  Claremont) can do its best work to support the project, serve as an honest broker of  information, engage in good faith conversations about community concerns, and help  move the discourse away from “how do we stop this” and toward “how do we make  Larkin Place work for the entire community.”  

That night, I heard the frustration many community members feel about decisions  that were made without their input. I heard many questions asked in the spirit of  learning, and I heard the disappointment and hurt from some who have been made  to feel like heartless NIMBYs for expressing their concerns. I heard traumatic stories  of lives impacted by homelessness, doubt about the efficacy of the permanent  supportive housing model, conjecture about the behaviors of people who will  eventually live at Larkin Place, and fear for the safety of our schoolchildren and  seniors. It struck me that what I heard most—and from nearly every person who  spoke—is that helping people who are unhoused is a good thing. That seems like a  good place to start. 

If we can agree that having concerns about the project doesn’t mean that you oppose helping the unhoused, we might also agree that supporting Larkin Place doesn’t mean  that you don’t care about the safety of our community. Maybe we can agree that  Jamboree isn’t trying to pull one over on Claremont and stands behind its  commitment to being a good neighbor. Perhaps we can believe in their tenant vetting  process, staff to tenant ratio, and trained, professional staff. With careful planning  and engaged stakeholders, we can serve the unhoused and maintain safety. We can  engage in a community process to create accountability and safety plans that ease  our misgivings. We might even take ownership and pride in the success of Larkin  Place. 

There are some who will never be convinced that a project like this will work, and I  expect they will oppose the proposed parking easement (resulting in a less  community-oriented design) and $1.5 million city investment (resulting in less  accountability by the City for the project’s success). Both might delay the project, but  neither will derail it because the project is protected under by-right housing law—law  that was enacted to prevent neighborhood opposition to new housing that has  contributed for decades to California’s housing and homelessness crisis. 

Someone on Thursday night worried that the project’s supporters simply “hope” that  it will all work out. In fact, there is ample evidence supporting the efficacy of permanent supportive housing and Jamboree’s success delivering it. But more than that, isn’t hope a good thing? Housing Claremont hopes that the community will come together to show that successful permanent supportive housing is possible in  Claremont, and we look forward to creating opportunities to do so. 

Respectfully, 

Ilsa Lund 

Housing Claremont, Board President

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